March 9, 2021 Fadela Hilali

Why is it so hard to make decisions (and how to be more decisive)

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to make decisions? I am not talking about choosing your main dish from a restaurant’s menu. I’m referring to the near-agony that we sometimes experience when faced with life choices, be they in your personal or professional life.

Should you stay in a relationship that is becoming increasingly dysfunctional? You love each other, but there’s gotta be a way to be in a relationship that feels more fulfilling… Or is there? What if you regret it later?

Do you leave your current job for a new company? The grass might look greener, but what if it isn’t? You do like your colleagues after all, and you know how to do the job well. But what about the dread you feel every Monday morning? Surely that’s not something normal?

Or maybe you’ve been thinking about moving to a different city or country even? What if you leave everything you’ve worked so hard to build only to find out that moving was a terrible mistake?

Whatever your dilemmas, there are three main obstacles to our decision-making abilities.

1. The fear of making the wrong decision

I don’t know at what point we started to forget that uncertain nature of life but it’s worth being reminded. In life, work or love, there are no guarantees. We all make mistakes. Whether they end up working out for the best or not, they are part and parcel of being human. Luckily for us, we are not operating nuclear devices and there are lessons to learn. When we know better we do better. We learn more from our mistakes than from doing everything perfectly. There is no growth or fulfilment opportunities when we’re stuck in fear and perfectionism.

2. “What will other people say?”

Look, I know that other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter. But for many of us, that’s only true some of the time… And that’s okay, there is no shame in that. What’s important is that we are aware of it and that we come up with strategies to learn how to minimise the impact they have on the way we choose to live our life.  How? Get clear on the tradeoff. When you’re saying “Yes” to what others expect of you (assuming it’s not what you want), you’re also saying “No” to your own needs. Are you happy with the tradeoff? Can you live with it without feeling bitter or resentful?

3. A lack of trust in our intuition

We often refer to intuition as this elusive, almost “mystical” quality when it is in fact something that we can all tap into. Intuition works like background software on your computer. You might not be actively using it, but it still runs in the background and helps optimise your computer experience. Your brain a ton of information but it will only bring to your awareness what is useful at any given moment. The rest of the info is stored in your unconscious mind. When you are presented with a situation you’re unsure of, your brain goes through the catalogue of knowledge or data to find something that’s relevant to the situation. It’s like looking at the questions of a quiz and having this “gut feeling” about the right answer without being able to explain why.

When we know better, we do better. Having read this, how will you approach making decisions differently?


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